California Bar Journal
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Courthouses need millions in repairs
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California's courthouses are in such bad shape that the state could face repair bills in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a report issued last month.

The Task Force on Trial Court Facilities estimated that between $281 million and $338 million will be required annually for 10 years in order to meet the current needs of California's 451 court facilities. The report also estimates the annual cost for new facilities to meet projected growth through 2020 is $104 million for 20 years.

Those figures are above the $140 million annual cost of operating, maintaining and administering existing facilities.

Recommending that the state assume full financial responsibility for court facilities, the task force said the decision on funding requires immediate attention. "The courts face an uncertain future while responsibility for trial court facilities is unresolved," the task force said. "With unclear responsibility for provision of facilities, and limited local resources, many projects and needed upgrades to trial court facilities are stalled."

After visiting all the court facilities in California during a two-and-a-half year study, the panel concluded that a significant number of court buildings require repair, renovation or maintenance. Among its findings:

22 percent of all usable area for court operations is located in buildings rated functionally deficient.

21 percent of all courtrooms are rated deficient for current use, principally due to the holding, security or in-custody access.

The facility needs most commonly identified include security and safety improvements, increased accessibility for the disabled, relief from overcrowding in staff support areas, re-roofing and replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and more jury assembly space.